Law Enforcement

Rules & Regulations

Law Enforcement at Burning Man & The Surrounding Areas

This could be the most important reading you do before arriving in Black Rock City.

Public Agencies that Patrol The Event

Several public agencies are on site to help enforce local and state laws. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rangers typically wear tan pants and short-sleeved shirts with this logo on their sleeves. They patrol throughout Black Rock City and the surrounding Black Rock Desert.

The Nevada State Health Division seeks to protect the health of our citizens and prevent foodborne epidemics. Please cooperate with their lawful inspections of all public food preparation sites at our event.

It is not the mission of these agencies to police your lifestyle or inhibit self-expression. They fulfill the same function as the police in any city. In the past, they have conducted search and rescue missions and assisted us in evictions. It is also their duty to respond to any infraction of the law that is brought to their attention or is in plain view. The Nevada State Health Division seeks to protect the health of our citizens and prevent foodborne epidemics. Please cooperate with their lawful inspections of all public food preparation sites at our event.

Public & Private: Your Right To Privacy

DISCLAIMER: This Survival Guide provides information about laws applicable to activities within the Black Rock Desert in the State of Nevada. But legal information is not legal advice, which is an interpretation of the applicable law to specific circumstances. Although the authors of the Survival Guide strive to ensure the accuracy and usefulness of the information here, you should consult a lawyer if you want legal advice about a particular legal question or issue you may have.

In Black Rock City, many distinctions between what is private and what is public tend to soften and disappear. However, Black Rock City is also subject to county, state, and federal laws. If you violate these laws you may be subject to arrest or citation.

What Is Illegal?

Even though Black Rock City is in a remote environment, federal, state, and local laws remain in effect. The following are just some of the laws you should be aware of:

  • The use and possession of illegal drugs are violations of the law. You will receive a citation if BLM Rangers see you doing drugs and/ or have drug paraphernalia on you. Medical marijuana cards are not recognized by the federal government, and the State of Nevada does not recognize medical marijuana cards from other states. Medical marijuana is only legal in a handful of states. Possession of marijuana is a federal infraction in the Black Rock Desert. Having a medical marijuana card is not a defense. BE FOREWARNED!
  • The possession of any illegal drug with intent to distribute is a more serious felony offence in all jurisdictions. The possession of large quantities or a variety of drugs may be interpreted as evidence of intent to distribute. Possession of drug paraphernalia with the intent to use it to ingest a controlled substance is a violation of the law. Giving illegal substances to someone else could rise to the level of drug trafficking.
  • Serving alcohol to minors is illegal. If your theme camp has a bar where alcoholic drinks are gifted, the person serving alcohol must check that any person being served is over 21. It is a State and local offense for anyone under 21 to consume alcoholic beverages or to pass themselves off as being of age. It is a violation of Pershing County law for minors to even possess alcoholic beverages. Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is a violation of the law. Nevada’s blood alcohol limit (BAC) is .08 for drivers 21 years of age and older, and 0.02 for drivers under 21.
  • Any act of assault or theft is a violation of the law, and may be cited as a felony federal offense.
  • The discharge of unauthorized fireworks is a violation of federal, state, and county laws. Some Native American reservations in Nevada allow the sale and use of fireworks that are NOT legal in the jurisdictions surrounding the reservations. THE POSSESSION OR USE OF FIREWORKS IS ILLEGAL OUTSIDE OF THE RESERVATION, even if they were purchased legally on the reservation.
  • Firearms are prohibited at the event.

Laws Specific To Black Rock City

  • Light your Mutant Vehicle: BLM regulations require that all motorized vehicles driven at night, including art cars, motor scooters and go-peds have front and rear lights. All drivers must have their driver’s license on them when operating any vehicle.
  • Defecation on the playa is forbidden. This is not only disgusting and a health hazard, but is also a violation of federal regulations. You may be issued a ticket that will cost you $125 or more.
  • You may only come into and out of the event site through the Gate. Prior to the event, the Bureau of Land Management issues a federal closure order, creating a closed zone around BRC to ensure the safety of participants and users of the Black Rock Desert. It is a violation of the closure order to enter the closed zone except at the main Gate, as is driving outside of Black Rock City in an area adjacent to its boundaries. These violations usually occur when would-be participants try to break through our city boundaries or when people attempt to avoid traffic at the conclusion of the event. PROPER USE OF THE MAIN GATE FOR EXIT PURPOSES WILL BE STRICTLY ENFORCED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT DURING EXODUS ON SUNDAY AND MONDAY.
  • Violating posted speed limits or boundary signs on the playa may result in a moving violation that imposes a $250 fine.
  • Hiking in or through the closure zone is highly discouraged. Those on foot in this area should be prepared to show a ticket stub or risk citation by law enforcement.
  • Using area hot springs during the event is also a violation of the closure order.